Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte Jr. has called on the House Committee on Health to immediately act on his measure seeking to legalize the production and international marketing of cannabidiol (CBD) following last week’s decision of the United Nations Commission on Narcotics Drugs to delete cannabidiol (CBD) from its list of most dangerous drugs.
He said the approval of House Bill No. 3961 will not in any way hinge on the President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs, considering that “CBD is the medicinal strain of the cannabis plant that is neither addictive nor producing the so-called buzz or ‘high’ for recreational users.”
“I am calling on the House Committee on Health chaired by Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan to finally consider the pending House Bill (HB) No. 3961 and submit it to a vote by the panel, in the wake of game-changing initiatives that have bolstered the international recognition and commercial marketing of the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of CBD, which is the non-addictive and non-hallucinogenic component of the cannabis plant,” Villafuerte said in a statement.
“Considering the UN CND vote last week to remove cannabis from the list of the dangerous category of narcotic drugs—where it used to be listed alongside heroin and other addictive opioids—it’s about time for the House health panel to submit HB 3961 to a committee vote so lawmakers could finally take action on this proposal.”
HB No. 3961 proposes the creation of the Philippine Cannabis Development Authority (PhilCADA) that would keep an eye on the local production of CBD “to make it a lot more accessible and cheaper for Filipinos in need of this revolutionary medicine.”
In February this year, Villafuerte asked the Tan committee to give due attention to his measure after the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) approved the use of CBD for people with epilepsy.
He said the congressional approval of his measure is expected to “subsequently make it more affordable for people in need of its treatment, instead of its use being limited to those suffering from epilepsy.”
He also noted that the last week’s CND vote should prod the the DDB and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take the appropriate steps in support of this medical breakthrough at the UN.
Villafuerte said his proposed establishment of PhilCADA would “eventually lead to the local, regulated supply of this pain reliever that will become more accessible and affordable for Filipinos afflicted with certain diseases.”
“Such an end result is in keeping with the ultimate goal of President Duterte to make medical care more accessible and affordable for the Filipino people, as shown by, among others, his enactment of Republic Act (RA) 11223 establishing the UHC (universal healthcare program) and RA 11467 that earmarked additional funds for the UHC and exempted from the VAT (value-added tax) the medicines for the treatment of hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol,” the former deputy speaker said.
He cited that currently, the sale of CBD in the US alone is a $390-million-per-year business and could grow into a $1.3-billion trade by 2022.
By cashing in on this booming global market ahead of the competition, the government could generate more revenues that it could use to spend bigger on President Duterte’s centerpiece “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure modernization and his other priority programs on human capital formation such as education, healthcare and social protection, he said.
“If the coronavirus pandemic were to stay around much longer, that would-be export earnings from CBD could also be used to help fund the government’s COVID-19 response,” Villafuerte said
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